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Michigan sweep produces the usual suspects

One of the most burdensome elements of a conviction for a sex offense is the registration requirements for the Michigan sex offender registry. The registry is the result of 20 years of legislation created in the wake of high-profile cases often involving children. The registry was designed to inform residents that an individual convicted of certain sex crimes is living in their vicinity.

This is supposed to promote public safety. The problem with the entire sex offender registry and reporting industry is that in order for it to really be successful, most sex crimes would need to be committed by individual already on the registry. However, that is not the case.

In addition to doing little to promote public safety, it also makes it difficult for individuals who have been released and are attempting to reintegrate themselves into the world outside prison.

A sweep in three Michigan counties last month illustrates this point. State troopers were checking the residences, as is required by law once a year, of 189 individuals. They verified 113 at the listed residences. The news report notes that prior to the sweep, 10 individuals were had "registration, verification or technical violations."

These violations did not appear to be new sex-related charges, but were due to such things as failing to notify law enforcement of changes in an address, workplace, school or vehicle or something like "violating a school safety zone."  A school safety zone  violation most likely did not mean they committed an offense with a child; instead, it may mean that they were living within a certain distance of a school.

These rules can be easy to break. With a change of an address or vehicle, the individual has three business days to make the report. Do it on the fourth day and you could be charged with a felony that could mean four years in prison. For Tier III offenders, who have to report every 90 days, a violation puts them at risk of another felony conviction and two more years in prison.

When the public reads of an individual on this registry being arrested for violations, it is typically these technical violations, which can make it impossible for an individual to obtain stable housing or employment, and potentially other crimes

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